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April 7, 2011 Volume 32, No. 26

Grant will expand college-advising corps in urban areas


Funding will allow MCAC to reach more students

The Missouri College Advising Corps will add five new partner schools to the St. Louis region and five new high schools to the Kansas City region, thanks to a $400,000 grant from a Massachusetts-based nonprofit.

The grant through the Pathways Fund, a public-private partnership led by New Profit, Inc., will allow the Missouri College Advising Corps, or MCAC, to add 10 advisors and reach an additional 13,000 students, doubling the number of students impacted during the current academic year.

The grant can be renewed for up to five years, with a potential total amount of $2.5 million. Currently, the MCAC serves four high schools in the St. Louis area and five Kansas City schools (along with two rural schools in the south central portion of the state).

According to the Missouri Department of Higher Education, only 65.5 percent of Missouri high school students go on to attend college, making Missouri one of the lowest “college-going” states in the nation. After only two years, the number of students going to college from schools partnering with the MCAC has increased by an average of 6.3 percent, with two high schools reporting an increase of 8.9 percent and 12.1 percent in the number of students attending college after graduation.

“If Missouri is going to remain competitive in the global economy, we must do everything we can to educate our future leaders,” said Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, executive director of the MCAC. “Gov. Nixon has issued a challenge to increase the number of students receiving bachelor’s degrees, and our program is committed to help Missouri meet that challenge. We’re very pleased with our current progress and our impact is evident with each student who might not have thought they would ever be in a college classroom; yet they are on their way to earning bachelor’s degrees.”

The MCAC was formed to help high school students realize that they can complete a four-year college degree, find the institution that is best for their style and needs, and navigate the process of applying for admission and financial aid. MU hires recent college graduates who are immersed in high schools across Missouri to guide students during the college planning and admissions process.

“Our goal is to get more Missouri students in college, by helping them find their best-fit postsecondary opportunity,” Tankersley-Bankhead said. “We work with the student and understand their personal desires, goals and dreams and then work to find a program that would best fit that profile. In the 2009-10 academic year, we helped 7,837 students apply to 218 colleges. In the first six months of this year, we have already exceeded those numbers, while also helping those students obtain more than $2 million in scholarships.”

The Pathways Fund is a public-private partnership that provides funding and strategic support to help grow the impact of innovative nonprofit organizations that have proven track records of results. Every dollar donated to the Pathways Fund is matched with three dollars from private corporations — tripling the impact of the federal investment.

“We are thrilled to be selected and included with the other social innovators. The organizations they lead are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those we serve,” said Nicole F. Hurd, founder and executive director of the Advising Corps. “With the Pathways grant, our new advisers will assist over 15,000 additional students to college access and success.”